The Great Hall
Job Search The Great Hall: Job Search
By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 10:59 am: Edit

Well, I lost my job to our illustrious governor's plan to bankrupt the great state of California. First the power debacle, now my job.

As of June 30, I am on the streets. Actually, I am hoping for something along the lines of food writing. Except for three years with a local newspaper, I have no experience. Anybody have any advice? I know I am leaving myself open on this - but any ideas are welcome. :>)

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 11:15 am: Edit

That sucks, Ladycake. Unfortunately, I know exactly what it's like to be downsized, rightsized, RIFed, laid off, fired, canned, shown the door, escorted from the building -- pick your term. I am a professional writer and have been for 16 years, so I can offer you advice if you'd like. What kind of writing are you thinking of? If your clips from the local newspaper are good, that may well be all the experience you need, depending on what you're looking for.

- Steve

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Tuesday, April 01, 2003 - 11:05 am: Edit

I had a gossip/restaurant news column for 3 years in addition to my regular job. I have copies of all of the columns and could pick the best for their review.

I would like to do product review, food testing, that sort of thing. I would not be opposed to travel food stuff either, but that would not be my first choice. DO they use mostly staff and would I need to move to a city? Do they take free lance articles? Do I need to have a finished product to sell, or find out what they are looking for first? Where would I start to test the waters? Are magazines or papers easier to get into first?

I guess you can tell I have a million questions!

By George (George) on Tuesday, April 01, 2003 - 11:12 am: Edit


If you wnat to get some online exposure I'd be happy to look at any thing that might fit in the articles area for EOL or if you have any other thoughts be happy to hear them.

Please contact me off list if interested.


By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Tuesday, April 01, 2003 - 11:31 am: Edit

First, stay away from travel food writing unless you get a specific assignment -- everybody wants to do it and it's very competitive. Also, you don't need to move anywhere. I'm a full-time staff writer at a company based in Maryland, though I live in Illinois. Technology is great.

Different types of publications have different rules of thumb, but generally speaking the larger the circulation the tougher the market is to crack. If you can be patient, you certainly can start with a local daily or weekly newspaper (won't pay much, but it's a foot in the door). You can also go the freelance route -- this can be very successful, but it can be a long road to get there.

Go to the library and look at their copy of Writer's Market. It lists all publications that accept freelance submissions, their submission guidelines, what they pay, etc. Your culinary degree and foodservice experience will be at least as important to many of these folks as are your clips. Don't just look at the Food & Drink category -- check out any category that might include food-related articles, such as Women's, Child Care & Parental Guidance, Inflight and Retirement. Don't forget the trade magazine categories (often the best sources of stories and income) such as Confectionary and Snack Foods, Groceries and Food Products, Hotels, Motels, Clubs, Resorts and Restaurants, and Travel.

You can go two ways there: You can query with specific article ideas, stressing your background and including your clips (best for consumer mags), or you can say you're getting into the writing gig full time and you're available for assignments, again including your clips and stressing your degree and experience (best for trades). The Writer's Market includes lots of info on writing query letters and how to contact editors, and you should read all of this. You also should understand that it can take a long time and lots of letters to find that first success, but it's a domino effect. When I was a freelancer I tried for months and months to get national magazines to give me a try, and one 250-word article in Entrepreneur led to a larger piece in the USAir inflight, which led to another and then another, and my work was showing up in places like Cosmopolitan and Modern Maturity -- at $1.50-$2.00 per word.

Does this help?

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Wednesday, April 02, 2003 - 10:23 am: Edit

You bet it does. I really had no idea where to start. I'll get down to the Fresno library soon. (Our local ones are very small.) Are you now making your living through writing or is it a sideline?

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Wednesday, April 02, 2003 - 10:59 am: Edit

I'm making a living as a medical writer. I work for a group of eight trade magazines for doctors -- I travel to medical conferences and write about the presentations. Essentially, we disseminate the important information at these meetings so docs don't have to go themselves. I have one more semester of culinary school left, and I just started working a couple of shifts a week on the line at a local restaurant -- I'll work there more starting next month when it becomes an official externship for credit as well as for pay. But even then I still make four times as much on my day job as I will on the line, so I've gotta keep it. Those kids insist on three meals a day.

I really do love working in a restaurant kitchen. If all goes according to the master plan I'll be doing that full time someday, maybe with some food writing on the side.

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Thursday, April 03, 2003 - 11:07 am: Edit

I've been reading about your progress as you go along. I have not been able to make a lucrative living in the culinary field without working myself to death, as I don't want to live in a city. I usually work three jobs, which leaves little time for any social life (no immediate family).

I hope it works for you with the kids and all. If you live in a more populated area, the pay and opportunities are much better.

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 07:23 pm: Edit


I got in touch with the school I went to and they are having Bon Appetit call me on Monday. Is this a promising lead? Does it sound like something legitimate?

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Monday, April 14, 2003 - 10:58 pm: Edit

Um, yeah, I would call Bon Appetit promising legitimate, as long as your school was legitimate and whoever you talked to wasn't jerking your chain. It's certainly a few dozen steps up from the community weekly newspapers I was advocating, but good God, if you can crack that market right out of the box you'd be insane not to.

Have them give me a call when they get off the phone with you.

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